Going to the airport is a mixed bag. If all goes well, you’ll travel to an exciting destination to spend time with people you care about. If it doesn’t, a delayed or canceled flight can result in several wasted hours inside a packed terminal surrounded by hordes of disgruntled people. In either case, a comfortable airport lounge is usually the answer, complementing good times and improving bad ones.
Amenity-heavy credit cards and the Priority Pass have democratized certain lounges, letting all types of travelers take advantage of their offerings. But the best lounges are still reserved for firs- and business-class travelers, or frequent fliers who’ve racked up enough clout with one airline to warrant first-class treatment before they ever step on the plane. American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges fall under this latter category, upping the luxury ante with cocktails bars, shower suites and dining menus created by local James Beard-nominated chefs. At Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, that means Tiffany Derry, a Top Chef regular and the lauded chef behind Roots Southern Table.
DFW Airport’s Flagship Lounge sits in Terminal D between gates D21 and D22. Previously, you could only access the lounge if you were traveling in the Flagship cabin on select flights, but after the pandemic-related shutdown, the reopened lounge is now accessible to anyone who purchases a single-visit pass for $150 or 15,000 miles. Considering what you can spend at the airport bar in just a couple hours, that $150 is a solid deal, especially if you’re stuck at the airport for a while.
Upon entering the lounge, you’re greeted with a glass of champagne, so you can have your first drink before you even put your bags down. There’s an expansive seating area, with leather chairs and couches, helpful if you need to get some work done — or just want a comfortable seat for streaming a movie. The bar serves craft beers, wines and cocktails. The bathrooms are stocked with D.S. & Durga products, and the private shower suites are equipped with fresh towels and Dyson Supersonic hair dryers.
The lounge has plenty of self-serve food to keep you fed from morning to night, but if you walk through the glass doors into the Flagship First Dining room, you’ll find a full-service restaurant, complete with table settings, waitstaff and the kind of menu you don’t expect to see in an airport lounge.
Dishes include a few Chef Derry signatures, like Shrimp & Grits, Cast-Iron Cornbread served with butter and jam, and Black-Eyed Pea Hummus served with akara (black-eyed pea fritters). It’s real food that can sustain you through whatever traveling throws your way.
“Chef Derry is special to us in many ways,” says Clarissa Sebastian, American’s Managing Director of Premium Customer Experience. “We first heard of Chef Derry through our partnership with the James Beard Foundation, and her participation on TV shows such as Top Chef. Then we got to taste her food, which is an amazing high-end twist to her family’s classic southern recipes, and which we thought would be the perfect fit for our DFW Flagship Lounge.”
Historically, luxe lounges were the dominion of frequent business travelers looking for a well-earned respite before jetting off to their destination. But Sebastian says that American’s lounge is attracting more and more leisure customers who are heading out on vacation and want to start their trip with a dose of comfort.
In addition to DFW, AA’s Flagship Lounges are in Miami (MIA), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK). So, depending on where your next flight takes you, you might be able to enjoy lounge life and James Beard-level dining on both legs of your trip.
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